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5 Things To Know About Robert Covington

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

As a part of the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to Philly, the Wolves brought in a talented and versatile forward in Robert Covington. Here are five things you need to know:

He Went Undrafted—Big Mistake

All 30 NBA teams picked in the 2013 draft, and none of them selected Covington. Looking back, that was certainly an error in judgment. Despite a solid four years at Tennessee State, Covington was dogged by concerns about his athleticism and his size. People said he was too small to play power forward but not fast enough to play small forward.

After Covington didn’t get picked in the draft, he signed a G League (then D-League) contract with the Houston Rockets. Playing with the Rio Grande Vipers, Covington won the G League Rookie of the Year award. However, even after that achievement, he was waived by the Rockets the next summer.

Luckily, the 76ers were paying attention to Covington’s game and signed him to a multiyear deal. By 2016, Covington had established himself as an every-game starter for the up-and-coming squad.

He Can Shoot Threes…

Covington has had the ultimate green light throughout his entire NBA career. Since 2014 he’s never averaged fewer than two threes per game.

He’s efficient, too. Covington is shooting 39 percent from deep this season. Last year he finished shooting 36.9 percent from three. Those are solid numbers. Covington will likely be getting the majority of his shots from beyond the arc with the Wolves as he’ll step into a role that’s not all that different from what he was asked to do in Philly.

The Wolves need shooters. They need to be able to space the floor for Karl-Anthony Towns and open up the paint for players like Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague to get to the rim. Covington fits perfectly into that mission. He could reach career-best form with the Wolves — a team that will give him a green light to shoot and plenty of minutes on the wing.

…And Play Defense

It’s the NBA in 2018. You didn’t seriously expect to get through this article without hearing “3-and-D” did you?

I’ll say it — Covington is a 3-and-D guy! He was named First Team All-Defense for a reason last season. That’s impressive for anyone, but if you consider that Covington wasn’t even drafted? Incredible.

When you play for Tom Thibodeau it’s important to play defense. Covington won’t have trouble staying on the floor. He’s a steals machine.

Covington has averaged at least 1.5 takeaways per game every season since 2015. He is an absolutely tenacious one-on-one defender and he has a knack for intercepting passing lanes, too. I can’t wait to see him next to Josh Okogie — a guy who has exhibited many of the same traits.

It’s not just the steals—Covington has shaped himself into a truly impactful player on defense. His defensive box plus-minus has risen every year he’s been in the league and he’s widely considered to be one of the best defenders in the league at his position. This guy will help the Wolves right away.

He’s One Heck Of A Rebounder

Rebounding used to be a strength of the Wolves. This season, not so much. That changes with Covington.

Covington is a great rebounder at his position. He’s averaging 5.2 per game this season, and in the past, he’s averaged as many as 6.5 boards per game. Having someone on the wing who crashes the boards like Covington is incredibly valuable. Towns is a great rebounder, but without support from his wings and guards, opposing teams can give Towns a lot of attention.

Now with Covington crashing the boards, teams will need to put bodies in front of him, freeing up Towns. Or, if they don’t, Covington is more than happy to grab boards himself. If you look at all the top rebounding teams in the league, they have multiple great rebounders, including wings who crash the boards.

Get ready for the Wolves to climb the ranks of the NBA in rebounding quickly.

He’s A Veteran

Covington’s presence in the minds of the everyday NBA fan might be relatively new, but the talented forward has been around the block in this league.

At 27 years old he’s at his athletic prime, but Covington has also been a part of enough seasons of NBA basketball to know how to be a leader and an example-setter for younger players. Covington knows what it means to work. He has improved every year he’s been in the league, and through his efforts he’s made it all the way from an undrafted rookie to an unquestioned starter in the NBA. That’s an incredibly impressive journey.

Covington is a winner and a team-first player. It’s going to be incredibly exciting to watch him fit in with the Wolves.

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